It’s ‘laughable’ that Neville, Rio praised England, Southgate

Date published: Monday 14th June 2021 2:39 - Editor F365

Gary Neville England

Loads more reaction an England win. Send your thoughts to…


Praise for what?
So England scraped through a game we should have won comfortably. That’s three in a row. Footballs coming home, lads lads lads.

Why are people still praising Southgate and, worse, players like Sterling? Lad is so talented but so lacking in composure in front of goal he is going to cost us against better opposition. Two wild shots, one run and simple shot that he almost fluffed after great work from one of our defensive linchpins. That was it. Oh no wait, there was that run where he burst past one player but knocked the ball so far the defender collected it easily. This would be embarrassing on a school playing field. Chip to the far post? Nope.

Kane was invisible again, though that’s a lot down to Southgate and is terrible set up. 6 defenders against that team? And still no change after half time? Still most of his passes in danger positions missed their mark and no shots of note.

Yes, it was hot, but these are highly trained athletes and a highly paid manager. It’s not wrong to expect better.

Foden looked exciting, Mount had flashes, Rice and Philips did very nicely but the latter really drove the team. And ofc Mings did very nicely.

Favourite moment of the match? When Walker strode into midfield, ran out of idea and then passed the ball off the pitch no where near any player and under no pressure. Summed it up really.

God, we need to be better next week.


The win over Croatia was achieved despite Southgate who is negative in the extreme, tactically naïve and set up a team that played pedestrian football against the worst side seen so far in the tournament, apart from Turkey.

Southgate has an abundance of attacking riches in the squad but doesn’t ever seem to let the handbrake off and it is laughable that the so called pundits, Ferdinand, Neville et al said England were impressive.

They have no chance of winning anything with Southgate in charge and yet another “golden age” will fall by the wayside, because any Manager that can omit Chilwell and Sancho from a match day squad is clearly unable to appreciate who are the best players in the squad and who clearly are not.

Kind regard
Mr Laurie Cole


Justice for Gareth
Pretty surprised to read quite a lot of criticism of Gareth in the morning mailbox. Seriously people, we just beat the team that knocked us out the World Cup semi-final. And it was a calm, measured, controlled performance; the kind of performance that England never usually produce. We never really looked under serious threat of losing the lead and didn’t have one of those periods where we drop deep and hoof the ball clear that are normally the hallmark of an England tournament performance. I fully accept that Croatia aren’t what they were but they still have good players who you’d expect to create a chance or two but that never really happened.

I know people would want more attacking players thrown in but you really don’t want to lose your first game and then have a match with Scotland coming up. And seeing as he went with 4 at the back and clearly told Kalvin Philips that he wasn’t a holding midfielder, I’d say it was quite a bold selection. I probably wouldn’t have had Sterling playing but I can see why he was and it worked out pretty well. Trippier was the one I really didn’t see coming and I was a little concerned but then I realised that people can get caught up and focus purely on ability. That’s a young team and if you swap Trippier for Chilwell and Sterling for say Grealish then you’re really light on international and tournament experience. Those two were stalwarts of the team at the last World Cup and experience is an absolutely vital commodity. Let’s just say Croatia had got an early goal or it was all stale and the crowd got restless, you might find that the younger players in the team need that experience to look to. I’d say that’s probably one of the big reasons why Trippier played and that if it was Maguire there instead of Mings, then Shaw or Chilwell would likely have played.

It just feels like some people want any excuse to attack Southgate. I feel a bit sorry for people who can’t enjoy a relatively untroubled win in the first match of a tournament (the first time at the Euros in 10 attempts as we were told so many times by the TV coverage), I really don’t know what you want. I mean you do realise France won the World Cup and they scraped through their first game against Australia, teams that hit the ground running often seem to burn out later in a tournament? I’ll take yesterday all day long.
Sam, London


Did we win?
Excuse me a moment while I just go back to the match reports from yesterday, and double check the official UEFA website just to make certain, that England won yesterday. I THINK they did, but after some of the mailbox comments this morning I still cannot be 100% sure.

I jest, of course, but my god alive why can’t people just be quietly satisfied with that? Not Gareth, of course, his work is far from done and should always be looking at improvements step by step, but for the rest of us, a simple nod and a ‘well done’ should suffice.

But that was a first ever win at the first game of a European Championships for England (a damning indictment of previous sides rather than an achievement for the current boys mind you) and they did it by keeping Croatia largely quiet and with only a few half chances to their name.

Declan Rice and Kalvin Philips largely nullified a midfield containing Kovacic, Brozovic and the ever majestic Modric (as an aside, he did not put a foot wrong all game until the last 5 mins when he tried forcing it. At that point we snuffed out most of his play, maybe that was tired legs, maybe it was England playing pretty well……?)

Sterling justified his selection. You could see what he brought to the team with his pace and ability to cause havoc for the Croatian defence but just needed the right opportunity. We will never know if Grealish would have scored a hat trick had he started but ultimately we won and kept a clean sheet because that was the tactics GS employed for this particular game.

Maybe we will try something slightly different for the next match to be a bit more expansive against a, likely, defensive Scotland, maybe we will play similar tactics against the big boys in the knockouts. Maybe he has different teams in mind for different games because of the short turn around, intense season just finished and the strength-sapping heat (in England, lol!) we are experiencing right now, but either way it is going pretty ok so far.

The unreal expectations on England come tournament time (or even in friendlies to be fair) are just such a millstone for the squad and manager. It wasn’t perfect, and the same old deficiencies may resurface come the business end of the tournament, but at least, for now, things are as quietly satisfying as they could be considering the build up and level of the opponents.
Rob (cue humiliating defeats in the next two games now), Leicester


Shifting the goalposts on England
People have been saying for years that England always lose to the first decent team they meet in international competitions. Now that they’ve beaten Croatia…well it turns out this Croatia isn’t that great after all! They are ‘past their peak’, ‘Have a weak defence’,  ‘some of their players are unknown’…the excuses are endless. Rather than simply admit that England beat a good side, a lot of people have decided to re-designate Croatia as a team that isn’t really all that.
Curious to see how this goalpost shifting will continue to work if England beats another good team. The mental gymnastics involved will be quite a sight to see.
Turiyo Damascene, Rwanda


England were a team!
I am one of the England fans who has traditionally supported Southgate, despite at times being baffled by individual selections. For instance, I still think Trippier at left back shouldn’t be the default. Nevertheless, I can see what Gareth is doing. People always froth at certain players not getting selected or certain formations being used, but he is actually doing exactly what an international manager needs to do. These players don’t play together week in and week out and so selecting the same players for internationals even if they aren’t in great form at club level makes sense.

I think we are beginning to see the benefit of this strategy now. This England starting team might not be made up of the absolute best England has to offer in terms of players, but there is a togetherness that seems to benefit them and I for one am glad to see it. I might mumble that I think Saka should be playing, or that Grealish needs more of a chance, but if England keep winning games, I will take whatever decision Southgate chooses to make.


Reaction to England-Croatia
A few immediate reactions:

– England really were good for the first 20 minutes. The pressing, incision, energy level and just straight up skill and creativity were clearly too much for Croatia and very much in the mode of how most of these players play in the premier league. If that tempo had stayed I think the game ends 3-0 or 4-0

– Then there was familiar experience of watching England play in major tournaments when everyone remembers that it’s hotter during the summer. And as soon as the game slowed down, England were far less effective – it’s just not our natural game – and Croatia’s rather good midfield (one of the best at this sort of game) took control. All our other games are later in the day (bad news for those of us viewing from Singapore, but surely good news for England), and I feel Southgate could make better use of the extra substitutions to allow the team to play more of the game at a higher tempo

– After that it felt like Croatia were in control of the game, except that England’s attack always felt dangerous and Croatia’s attack never did. That won’t always be the case, but is nonetheless surely a good thing to say about both our attack and our defence

– It feels obtuse in the extreme to pick 6 full-backs for a major tournament, and then attempt to play without the fullbacks contributing as an attacking force at all. Kieran Trippier as left-back blunted the attack, and Walker was equally disappointing. No overlapping fullback also made both Sterling and Foden less effective. Surely England would be better with Chilwell/Shaw on one side and James on the other?

– Harry Kane was the worst player on the pitch for England by far. He just seemed totally off the pace and largely in the wrong part of the pitch. I know it’s a bit knee-jerky but given that both City and Chelsea tried it extensively, I’m surprised Southgate didn’t experiment with Foden as a false 9 in any of the friendlies
Tim Colyer, Chelsea fan, Singapore


K Philz Ballon D’or > Kante + Pirlo + Gerrard
A loyal subscriber of Perpetual Disappointment club supporting Team England by default due to the influence of Premier League on this side of the world. Things are different with Gareth and this crop of players though.

Yesterdays’ game was not for extremes – it was neither a tactical masterclass nor did it deserve the outcry of questions on manager’s competency.  What’s different was that there was an evident plan.

  • Gareth wanted conservative fullbacks so played his 2 most reliable ones. They rarely motored far from the Centre backs.
  • He repeatedly wanted the near side wingers coming short with the free 8s running past. Kane seemed bypassed but even in the WC2018 he was almost a decoy to the forward runs of the Delle/Lingard combo.
  • And this were patterns repeated all the time, resulting in the goal. Foden came short, Walker found the free 8 running past – Philipps. And the pitch just opened up due to Kane’s and to a certain extent Mount’s decoy runs giving Sterling ample of space for the finish.
  • He got almost all his big calls correct – Mings, Philipps, Sterling, Pickford were all superb

Now whether the plan made the best use of the attacking talent at his disposal was up for question. Mount spinning in behind with Sterling coming short to thread the ball through seems like role reversal of what they both are best at. And even if sticking to the Free 8s plan,  the near side winger acting as a decoy ideally would have opened up space for the opposite winger to run in behind. As seen by the goal. Taking their individual skillsets into question, it would have been better to focus build up play on the right (Foden) allowing Sterling space to run in behind but most of the buildup play was instead down the left, with Sterling repeatedly dribbling through the center – something that someone like Grealish/Sancho might be more suited to. And while it was not by any means disastrous the logic of shoehorning your at best 3rd choice RB on the left seemed off. A few times in the half when Trippier actually motored through and found in space he checked back onto his right where a left footer would have crossed it first time with his favored foot.

All in all though, this version of the 3 Lions still feels a world of difference to the Golden Generation days under Sven. We have a plan!
Jeeva (Always knows better than the current manager) 

England Croatia Euro 2020

The unspoken expectation
I quite enjoyed John Nicholson’s piece from earlier today and I think he is definitely on to something. I would go a step further and say it isn’t just the team that is more Zen and relaxed about things (through good leadership, man management, tactics and preparation) but I think the fans are following suit too.

Then I click open the mailbox this morning and see several messages from various contributors who I assume are nowhere near as qualified as Southgate nitpick and moan about various selection issues. Dont get me wrong, we can and should dissect and discuss tactics, selections and other aspects of the game, but this wasnt exactly Wally with a Brolly ineptitude. It was a pretty tidy and fuss free performance.

This then leads me on to the point of my email. We can accept that certain players have limitations. If Pickford doesn’t save 5 out of 5 penalties, we aren’t going to burn effigies of him. If Foden doesn’t slalom past an entire midfield and defence to score an historic goal we arent going to dismiss him (the press might though), yet when it comes to managers of any team at any level there is this unspoken expectation that they have to be PERFECT. Literally PERFECT. Any result that isnt a victory gained through swashbuckling football with a selection of players that you agree with send a (thankfully diminishing) group of fans to their keyboards in rage.

Maybe, just maybe, the manager knows better than us. Maybe their skill set is a pie chart of different qualities of varying strength and weaknesses that we just dont happen to agree with. Maybe we should just accept that they dont and cant always make the right decision, but even if they dont they would certainly be better at the job than you and me.

The suns out, first game out the way, the fans are back in the stadium, and we aren’t thankfully discussing the unexpected passing of a young man on the football pitch.

Good luck to Southgate and the boys. Keep it up. Win or dont win, just do your best the way you see fit.
Samwise, MUFC


I agree with Johnny. I watched the Italy Turkey game, and remember being impressed at how the Italians were completely unruffled by Turkey nullifying them in the first half. They didn’t panic, kept doing their thing, attacking the weak spot and got their deserved reward. I remember thinking that the England I watch could never do that, they’d get fifty minutes in, panic, throw too many people forwards and get picked off on the break.

Only they didn’t. They kept their cool, kept their balance and got a huge win with comparatively little fuss.

It’s probably not coming home, but I feel like this team at least will get the most out of it’s talent, which is rare for England
Dan, Plastic LFC


Yorkshire Pirlo
Just wanted to help MAW, LA Gooner out, so he can glean a bit more enjoyment following your fine website and other British football outlets (what other British football outlets..?)

“Yorkshire Pirlo” is tongue-in-cheek. No-one thinks Kalvin Philips is as good as Andrea Pirlo. But after another good game, maybe…

Given the bilious tone of your email, your misunderstanding was obviously causing you some consternation, so I wanted to help out.

I’ll help you with another example, no-one actually thinks that Jesse “Messi Lingard” Lingard, is as good as Lionel Messi.
Andy (MUFC)


To the Chap Alex in reading,

Refs used mostly hand signals and body language to officiate a game these can be understood by anyone. It’s why they seem so dramatic on the pitch because the signals are designed that way.

As for speaking to staff on the sidelines they nearly always have at least one person who speaks multiple languages.


Hi there,

Alex, Reading asks how referees communicate with different players.

All referees and assistant referees who officiate at Champions League and UEFA international matches, such as the Euros, are expected to be fluent in English, which is used as the language of on-field communication. Indeed, a referee is expected to speak to a player of his own nationality in English, rather than in their native tongue.

At world level, FIFA has four languages: English, French, Spanish and German, at least two of which referees are expected to be able to speak up to a reasonable standard. International matches are officiated in English, unless both teams and the referee request to have it officiated in another language for convenience (Argentina vs Colombia officiated by a Spanish referee, for example.)
Dara O’Reilly


Dear F365,

Not football related really, but relevant. My young, fit and healthy mate had a cardiac arrest a few years ago surrounded by his family. Fortunately he did survive due to the quick thinking CPR that was performed.

The point is about defib’s and how many there are. These can be attached to walls and need a tiny amount of power to keep running, they are locked and if registered (They must be registered) the 999 controller will direct you to the nearest one and provide a code to open the cage to retrieve the defib, the machine will do the rest once placed, it will inform if it’s not correctly positioned and will shock if it’s required. We need lots of these machines in lots of publicly accessible places. If you work on an industrial estate then look around and see where they are, then maybe get together with other close units to get another one, if you work in a shop look at the high street and see if there are enough close by, office the same, everywhere, the more the better.

Getting to one quickly is so important, being on the phone, getting a location, getting to the location, entering the code, retrieving the defib, getting back to the casualty is a lengthy process especially when you are in a stressful situation where you will need to do something before any paramedics will arrive.

I live in a small village and we have 2 publicly accessible Defibs at either end of the village as well as 7 other portable ones that are housed in the school, church and for the local football teams etc. It may seem too many but were almost all purchased through a couple of small fundraising events, it gives a real fighting chance should they unfortunately have to be used. For every minute without treatment the chance of survival decreases by 10%.

The BHF have nationwide schemes but there are other routes for purchasing directly that are probably better for more rural locations.


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